If you’re a filmmaker, podcaster, YouTuber, or TikTok enthusiast, you know that the right music can really take your projects to the next level. Unfortunately, not everyone is a talented musician. Luckily, there are a number of websites that allow you to download royalty-free music to use in your projects.
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Bensound is a website that features the work of French musician Ben Tissot. He has worked as a composer for over ten years, with his work being used in corporate videos, commercials, short films and documentaries. His website, Bensound.com, is a searchable database of his compositions, organized by genre.
All of the music found on Bensound is under the Creative Commons license. This means that you can use the music in any multimedia project, provided you credit Bensound.com. Furthermore, all of the music on Bensound has a “NoDerivs” clause added to the license. This prevents people from making their own music using Bensound music, such as remixes or adding lyrics.
In addition to the free music library, users can opt to pay for exclusive content. The paid license is available in different tiers with varying pricing structures. Purchasing a license gives users perks, such as exclusive tracks, and allows the music to be used without attribution.
2. Free Music Archive
As the name suggests, Free Music Archive is an archive of free music by musicians from all over the world. Users can download any of the tracks at no charge. There are thousands of tracks available, all organized into a variety of different genres. What you’re allowed to do with these tracks will vary. Each artist or rights-holder has the final say in how the tracks can be used. Therefore, it is imperative that you double-check the Creative Commons license associated with each track.
All of the music on the Free Music Archive falls into one of four Creative Commons licenses. Attribution means you can use the track as long as you give credit. Be sure to double-check the specific license associated with a track before using it in your project. Fortunately, it is possible to search the archive by license type. This makes it much faster to find a piece of music that is legally available for your intended use.
Non-Commercial (“NC”) means you can’t use it in a for-profit project. No-Derivatives (“ND”) dictates that you can’t change the track in any way (e.g., a remix). Finally, Share-Alike (“SA”) allows you to remix the track, but you have to make it available under the same license.
FYI: learn how to apply an equalizer to your music on your Mac.
3. Moby Gratis
Moby Gratis is the brainchild of famous electronic musician Moby. The Moby Gratis site is a resource for independent filmmakers or anyone in need of music for a non-profit project. Users can download and use over 200 tracks from Moby’s own extensive back catalog of music. This includes remixes of previously released material and unreleased tracks.
There is one major difference with Moby Gratis when compared to the other sites on this list. Once you find a track (or tracks) that you would like to use, you have to fill out an application before you can use the piece in your project. The application process is relatively straightforward: you just need to detail how you are planning on using the music.
If your application is accepted, you’ll receive a high-quality AIFF download of the piece, as well as a copy of the non-commercial license agreement. Granted, it’s a bit more effort. However, if you’re looking for music composed by a world-famous musician who has done extensive work with film scores, it may be worth it.
Kevin MacLeod is one of the most widely credited musicians in the world. As a composer, he has created over 2,000 pieces of royalty-free music and has made them available under a Creative Commons license. This means that anyone can use his music as long as they credit him. As a result, MacLeod has been credited in thousands of movies, TV shows, video games, podcasts, and YouTube videos.
MacLeod’s website, Incompetech, is home to all of his compositions. The website isn’t the flashiest, but the sheer amount of music available more than makes up for it.
Users can search for songs by genre, length, tempo, and even the vibe of the music (e.g., Bouncy, Mysterious, Calming). If you can’t or do not want to attribute the compositions to MacLeod, you can purchase licenses that allow you to use it without crediting him. One piece of music runs $30, two pieces come in at $25 each, and 3 or more are $20 each.
Tip: if you need to compose music on the go, check out the best Android apps to compose music.
Another brainchild of Kevin MacLeod, FreePD, is a website that hosts music in the public domain. Normally, a piece of creative work falls into the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. Unfortunately, this means that public domain music can be dated and unsuitable for a modern project. Fortunately, MacLeod started FreePD as a way for musicians to release their music into the public domain immediately.
The advantage of FreePD is that the music is not only 100% free, but it does not require any attribution. The music on FreePD is released under the Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license. This means that the music can be used for any purpose, including commercial applications. In addition, the music can be changed and augmented, making it a good resource for those who are interested in creating their own remixes of existing tunes.
Music is organized by genre on FreePD.com. Some of the options include New Age, Orchestral, Techno, Trance, Urban and Rap, World Fusion, Electro-Acoustic, 70s Sci-Fi.
Pixabay has developed a reputation as an excellent source of royalty-free images and stock footage. But did you know that Pixabay’s sprawling library of content also includes audio? There are tens of thousands of tracks to choose from. They are broken down into genres, such as “dreamy,” “ambient,” “background music,” and more, to assist you in finding the right track for your project.
Like all of the stock images and videos found on Pixabay, the audio library is completely free to download and use, as most of the tracks are under the Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license. The owner of the work has chosen to waive all rights under copyright law.
Ultimately, this allows you to use the tracks in personal and commercial applications, without needing to attribute the original author or Pixabay. That said, there are some restrictions in regard to how you can use the content found on Pixabay.
FYI: have you decided just to compose your own music? These free music composition software and web apps for Windows can help.
There are many websites that allow you to download high-quality royalty-free music to use in your next project. Remember, though, that royalty-free does not mean that users can do whatever they want with the files. Be sure to always check the Creative Commons license attributed to any royalty-free file you want to use to ensure that you are not violating the legal protections of that work.
Also check out the best sites for royalty-free images and the best sites for stock footage to complete your project!
Image credit: Pexels
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